My lifestreaming dating idea realised for anyone to take on

People ask me why would I choose to open my ideas to the world, for anyone to take and make money on. For example mydreamscape.org.

But the way I see it is, I’m very unlikely to dedicate 10 years of my life to one idea, grow it and nurture it through all the stages of making it successful. I actually put this to Richard St John a while ago at TedXSheffield, because I was really interested in what he thought of those like myself who don’t necessarily want to be successful (as such). He cleverly turned the question around and said actually what i’m actually after is success in the idea or the meme. Ideally I would have a team of people and certain people would make there job to take an idea forward for the sake of the team.

But back to the point…

I’ve been sitting on the same principle idea for a long time to do with online dating. It was actually the wider part of what I presentation at Ignite Leeds.

I’ve stated before that some of the largest benefits we will see from creating and maintaining our Lifestreams will be the services created on the backbone of that data. We are starting to see the first big service phenomenon from that coming in the way of content readers that are built specifically for us based on the data shared by our social graph.

Early on when I first started writing about Lifestreaming I gave thought to services that could be built off of the data and one of the first that came to mind was a dating site. In fact I had multiple interviews at a top dating site a few years ago that was very interested in my knowledge and thoughts around Lifestreaming data. I didn’t get the job, but I still felt that Lifestreaming data would at some point help power the matchmaking process. Well apparently a new dating service called Wings feels the same way.

Wings has taken a unique and interesting approach when it comes to dating. They figured that instead of creating a site from scratch that people need to join, they’d just tap into the 500+ Million Facebook users and build a dating app within their eco-system. The innovation doesn’t stop there as when you join there is no super long, multi-page questionnaire. After joining the service will analyze your Facebook data and let you also connect your Netflix, Pandora, Last.fm, Twitter, and Foursquare accounts to help paint a picture of who you are. I feel this is a much better way to build a profile for someone. Instead of a static survey filled out and frozen in time, your profile is dynamic based on the data collected on a daily basis.

This is the crux of my idea.

One of the most frustrating things about online dating is the lack of portability but also having to fill in those bloody profile statements or questions. So if you could leverage your lifestream instead to teach the system about who you really are. Then you might actually get better results. This would/could also cut down on Spam and more interestingly the lies people tell in online dating.

I thought about using the same principle as in APML to mark up whats important in peoples lives. Now what I realize is this can be better done with a “like” button or “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” So if you don’t want your drunken pictures from last night on your dating profile, you can vote it down or bury it all together.

When you interfere with the stream, the engine would mark the item up in a way to say it was interfered with. So it discourages you from simply removing all the bad crap from your stream and painting a perfect picture of yourself. The more you do it, the more it indicates the changes.

So why did I not post this on my blog earlier?

Well I thought the notion of a lifestream was still a very alpha geek thing (still do) and most people only have a couple of services they sign up to (and therefore can make use of). Remember if you don’t use the services then theres no way of the engine being able to work out what you like.

I’m also unsure if revealing your impact across the web will certainly generate better matches. Someone (wish I could remember who) said the thing about the profile is its your best foot forward (the best bits of you). Letting people know about you straight away is a massive risk that lots of people wouldn’t want to take.

However, I’ve noticed more and more, people linking to different parts of there impact across the web. For example in my okcupid profile I have a link to my blog, my last fm profile, my flickr and my twitter stream. And i’m not the only one, quite a few people have links to there last fm or/and flickr. Some even go as far as to link to there facebook (rather them that me).

OkCupid does a interesting thing when your replying to someone, it pulls out things you both like, so for example…

I think you both like cooking, films, poker, fight club, and donnie darko.

You can pretty much look at my blog, my delicious, my last.fm, etc to determine the similar things. So ultimately its about gathering the data with the permission of the user to build up a profile of that person, which they can use to tell others about themselves. Its quite a long shot but I thought it was too early. It would only work with certain public people like for example Tara Hunt (I actually did try and send her a email explain the idea a while ago)

Its all about dataportability

Up till I saw Wings and the blog post about it, the closest thing I’d seen to my idea was a weird site called Gelato which went half way but not the whole way. Gelato allowed you to put in parts of your lifestream but it doesn’t build a profile around it. Instead it supports openid, facebookconnect and a few other authentication methods.

I’m still looking forward to joining a site where the email system isn’t some propriety crap and the instant messaging system is even worst. I get the whole anonymity thing, but this can be solved by passing messages back and forth to a 3rd party (aka the company who is running the site). Using this method almost anything could be used including Twitter, Xmpp, etc. Wings is a facebook app which I guess is a interesting solution, although being a facebook app winds me up no end and the fact its only for an American audience also winds me up no end.

Wings on facebook

So is the idea dead? Not exactly, Wings is still a poor dating experience and doesn’t rely enough on the data which it has. You have to confirm a lot of things and to be frank, it really needs to be as enjoyable as Okcupid for me to really be interested. (In actual fact while were letting the cat out of the bag), I was going to build a dating site off the back of Storytlr before they stopped it and went open source. Everyone would be able to put in there streams and you would be able to identify people who were matches via a mechanism like dr foxxy.

What I’m saying is the concept is still sound (I think) but the actual implementation is terrible and I don’t think putting it inside of facebook actually works or does it any favors. So I look forward to seeing more sites based on our lifestreams…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.